#OnlyinLB: Catalina Express

Need a local vacation that offers both the relaxation of a European riviera along with adventurous hiking and camping? Catalina Island, just 22 miles offshore, fits the bill and is an hour’s boat ride away. For more than four decades, Catalina Express has transported residents and tourists to Catalina Island and you can rely on them for a fast, convenient, and fun trip on one of its eight high-speed vessels.


The Catalina Express (320 Golden Shore) terminal is located in an office building near the Aquarium of the Pacific. Passengers should arrive and check in an hour prior to their departure time. Each passenger is allowed two pieces of luggage along with a carry-on item. Check the Catalina Express website for special instructions on bringing your camping or scuba gear, bicycle, stroller, or surfboard.


Booking online offers the fastest and most convenient method for securing your Catalina Express tickets. Fares are discounted for children under age 12, infants under age 2, and seniors age 55 and up. AAA members receive an 11% discount on tickets. The company also offers several packages that include discounted room rates at several hotels on the island and two round-trip Catalina Express tickets. Check out their blog for travel tips, recommendations for things to do on the island, and other useful travel info.


Since you are already saving a significant amount on a Catalina Express fare when compared to an airline ticket, why not consider an upgrade? Try the Commodore’s Lounge for a first-class ride to the island that includes priority check-in and boarding, larger reclining seats, complimentary drinks and snacks, and spectacular ocean views. Or book a private stateroom by upgrading to the Captain’s Lounge. Parties of six traveling from Long Beach can enjoy pre-boarding privileges, private booth-style seating, and catering options available.


Boats that depart from Long Beach arrive at two locations on the island. Avalon is the island’s only incorporated city and is home to several hotels, resorts and restaurants as well as the historic casino, an airport, and other tourist attractions. Two Harbors is a rustic village on the island’s isthmus with resorts and restaurants. Both towns have access to the 38.5-mile Trans-Catalina Trail leading to five designated campgrounds.


Speaking of trails, nature enthusiasts can spot lots of wildlife, from the endangered Catalina island fox, to a small herd of bison left on the island by a film company in the 1920s. There’s even bald eagles. Catalina Express passengers also have the opportunity to spot marine life during their passage. The channel between Long Beach and Catalina is home to harbor seals, sea lions, huge pods of dolphins, and large numbers of whales, so keep your eyes open during your journey!

About the Author
Claire Atkinson